Construction-related apps are turning smartphones and tablets into essential jobsite tools. But unless you’re just marking off checkboxes, it’s difficult to do any real typing on those small on-screen keyboards built into handheld devices.
Compact Bluetooth keyboards have been around for awhile, but straight-bed models are too big to carry around, and the plastic folding models are too fragile for a construction site. Plus, most compact keyboards compromise key size and position to conserve space, making them tricky to use and increasing typos. What working contractors need is a rugged keyboard that’s small enough to carry easily, but with keys located where you expect to find them and large enough to comfortably type on.
The IC-BK03 from iClever may be the answer. The three-piece folding keyboard is plastic, but is set in a rugged aluminum housing with strong spring-loaded hinges that hold the outer panels firmly in place, whether open or closed. Folded, it’s about ⅝ inch thick and slightly larger than 3½ inches by 5½ inches; open, it’s about 10 inches wide and just ¼ inch thick.
Compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows, the Bluetooth keyboard has a range of about 30 feet, according to iClever. Initial pairing requires a command from the keyboard, but after that, unfolding the keyboard automatically powers it up and pairs it with an available device.
The keyboard I used felt sturdy, and when open, the spring hinges held it flat on a hard surface (it’s a little floppy for typing on your lap). The keys, which are responsive and have a solid feel, are about the same size as those on a full-size keyboard, but they are closer together, so it takes some adjustment to avoid typos.
I wouldn’t use this if a full-size keyboard was available, but for jobsites (or in my case, a cramped airline seat), it’s easier than thumbing or swiping an on-screen keyboard.
The company claims a working time for the rechargeable lithium battery of 84 hours and a standby time of 218 days. The keyboard comes with a plush cloth case and retails for about $35.